Dreaming of being an Innkeeper?
I have met many people who have said to me, “It is my dream to someday own a Bed and Breakfast”. In order to have your dream come true, you need to have a plan to make it happen. Anyone can open a few rooms in their home and call themselves a B & B, however it takes a lot of work to be a successful Innkeeper. Once you get to that top position of where you want to be it also takes as much work to remain there but the rewards in terms of guest reviews are certainly worthwhile.
We attended the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) conference in Charleston January 2014 and uncovered a room full of passionate Innkeepers willing to share their knowledge and expertise with others. Even people from the same town were sitting together trying to figure out new ways to work together in the spirit of tourism. The conference also attracted over 50 new Aspiring Innkeepers who were there to gain knowledge. Innkeepers are by nature friendly, outgoing people so the networking opportunities at the conference were endless. I was proud to be able to share ideas that have worked for me with various aspiring innkeepers. The conference inspired me and made me proud to be a Professional Innkeeper. After 10 years of running a Boat Bed and Breakfast in Toronto, I felt like I was looking at the business through a fresh set of eyes.
Like other conferences I took pages full of notes and highlighted ideas that I wanted to implement. My biggest challenge at the conference was narrowing down which sessions I would attend out of the long list. Being a foodie I managed to get one cooking demonstration under my belt. Upon my return to Toronto in the spring we proceeded to make those changes and implement our new ideas.
We created a self-serve coffee/tea station for guests, complete with a coffee jar of fresh baked cookies. As you can see the cookie jar is empty again. I discovered that it was easier to keep the coffee supply full than the cookie jar! We added conveniences that we thought our guests would appreciated such as large mirrors in both of the forward cabins, a shaving/makeup mirror in the main guestroom and a hand packed breakfast-to-go for those early morning airport departures.
What happen to our business this summer and did the new ideas make a difference to the business? Each idea we implemented was met with delight by our return guests. We had our best season ever and our rating on Trip Advisor went from #3 out of 120 Bed and Breakfasts in Toronto last year to the #1 this year. Unfortunately we cannot attend the conference this year because we are travelling, however I look forward to attending next year, rekindling old friendships and meeting new friends. So if you are looking to become a B & B owner I would highly recommend the investment to attend an industry conference such as PAII.
My second piece of advice is to join Acorn University. The people at Acorn Internet Services are all former B & B owners and provide an Internet Marketing Project Planner and specific training for the bed and breakfast industry. They teach you everything you need to know from a marketing prospective and how to do it yourself. I either participate in the webinars or watch them on my own schedule. I have gained so much knowledge from Acorn on topics such as Google+, how to create a video, how to use Goggle Maps and so much more. They also created our new responsive website which is mobile friendly.
I would highly recommend both of these investments because running a B & B isn’t just putting a sign on the lawn – it’s about becoming a professional innkeeper.